For many young drummers February 9th. 1964 is a day of great importance. It was the evening we all sat around our black and white TV sets and watched The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. Many will not understand the impact of that performance, but for countless others, it was the genesis of a lifelong love for playing drums. I was one of those young kids that decided I was going to play drums like Ringo Starr and be in a band like the Beatles. Fifty-four years later the spell has not worn off. That's why owning this drum set I'm showing this month means so much to me. It is a 1960s Ludwig Downbeat set in the finish Ringo used with the Beatles during the major part of their years together as a group.
Ringo purchased his first set of Oyster Black Pearl Ludwigs in England in 1963. He tells of going into the music store with his manager and seeing the Downbeat set in this finish. The purchase was made and the dealer asked he wanted the Ludwig logo removed from the bass drum head. Ringo was very animated when he tells of how he said. "no." Ringo used two Oyster Black Pearl Downbeat sets and two Oyster Black Super Classic sets during his Beatles career. One of the Downbeat sets recently made the news when it was sold at auction for 2.2 million dollars. That's a lot of money for a vintage Ludwig drum set. What made it worth so much? Only those who remember what the Beatles and Ringo, in particular, did for the cause of drumming will ever understand.
My prized OBP downbeat kit is the correct 20X14 bass 12X8 mounted tom and 14X14 floor tom. The snare is a 14X5 Pioneer. Ringo used the Jazz Festival model with all his sets. The shells are three-ply mahogany poplar mahogany with white resicote inside. Keystone badges and baseball bat tone controls are present on each drum. The bass drum features fold-out spurs, and the real surprise is the Rogers Swiv-o-matic tom mount. Ringo preferred and installed this type of mount on his kits. This mount is present on my kit with no extra holes. The tom is also fitted with the Swiv-o-matic mount with no extra holes. I feel sure this set was ordered with no customary rail consolette mount. In other words, it was a virgin bass and tom. The drummer who ordered this set wanted this set to be like Ringo's set. This doesn't sound so amazing now, but none of us really knew what Ringo's tom mount was back in the day. We didn't have the internet and close ups to identify what he had done.
You can just feel the Beatles' vibe when you see and play this set. My friend Ron Burns owned and played this set with a Beatles tribute band for many years. They are in excellent condition. I was so fortunate to buy them from him, and I promised him he could use them for any reunion concerts his tribute band may ever do. I also wanted to show you a very cool painting my friend Dennis Kaney did for me. Dennis is a drummer who has been rocking since the 1960s also. The picture is an oil painting of Ringo in action on one of his Oyster Black sets. I just love this painting. Thank you, Dennis for such a cool painting to remind me of why I took up drumming in the first place.